After reading some extremely depressing articles about the downfall of former NBA players, I have been stuck thinking about the reintegration of basketball players into society. The transition from revered athlete to regular member of society can’t be easy on even the more well adjusted. I envision a variation of the final scene of Goodfellas, only with Raymond Felton instead of Ray Liotta.
Working in politics, I have seen strong parallels between politicians and athletes. The attention is there, the egos, the combat. Politics is a competitive sport that has been dressed up, complicated, and played for incredibly high stakes.
Basketball is the sport of the moment in DC following the election of our first President with an established jump shot. While never playing organized ball above the high school level, Obama is an aggressive pick up player who has somehow kept his game intact through law school and his political career. Obama’s love of the game has brought basketball to a prominence in the capital that has not been seen since the days of Wes Unseld. While he has certainly brought the most attention to the synthesis of hardwood and marble, Obama is only the most recent in a long line of ballers turned politicians. In a possibly on-going series on life after basketball, I present to you the all politician dream team:
PG – Kevin Johnson, Mayor of Sacramento.
Career averages:17.9 points, 9.1 assists, and 1.5 steals per game
The general this team needs at the point, Johnson provides explosiveness and excellent court vision to a team of selfless but largely uninspiring offensive players. As mayor of Sacramento, Johnson has wisely written off the Kings and seems to be focusing on improving the arena and bringing in a team that will win games in the next 5 years.
SG – Dave Bing, Mayor of Detroit
Career averages:20.3 points, 6.0 assists, and 3.8 rebounds per game
A career 44.1 percent shooter, Bing adds scoring in the backcourt with slicing drives and a competent spot up game. An apparent masochist, Bing is currently serving in what I have to imagine is the least fun political post in the nation. It has gotten so bad that Bing has had to offer police officers $1,000 homes just to get them on the force.
SF – Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education
(College) Career averages:16.1 points, 3.9 assists, and 4.9 rebounds per game
After serving as co-captain of the Harvard Crimson, Duncan played professionally in Australia briefly before becoming an education superstar and eventually landing the top education position in the country. As Secretary, Duncan has introduced the Race for the Top program which encourages competition and efficiency by forcing states to fight to the death for education funding.
PF – Bill Bradley, (Fmr) U.S. Senator
Career averages:12.4 points, 3.4 assists, and 3.2 rebounds per game
The most politically successful of the team, Bradley served in the US Senate and nearly became the Democratic presidential nominee. As a forward for the Knicks, Bradley was a master of the unobserved contribution: making smart passes, few turnovers, and selfless, intelligent plays. He was the kind of player who would end up on the Rockets.
C – Tom McMillen, (Fmr) U.S. Congressman
Career averages::8.1 points, 1.1 assists, and 4.0 rebounds per game
McMillen doesn’t help this teams severe lack of rebounding. Despite being 6’11” McMillen somehow managed only 4 boards a game. As a congressman, McMillen’s primary role was making photo ops look awkward.